A recent post in the Washington Post by Amy Joyce gives advice on raising nice kids. Click on the link for the full article. Joyce highlights recent work by a Harvard psychologist, Richard Weissbourd, who runs the Making Caring Common project. The mission of this project is to find ways to teach kids how to be kind.
More impressive to me than the tips on how to raise nice kids — summarized below — is that Weissbourd and colleagues found the vast majority of kids state their parents care much more about their success and happiness than whether or not they are kind to others. This is sad, but not surprising, in our society which places such emphasis on achievement and looks at happiness as a goal. Have we become so focused on making the unattainable, perfect life for our individual children, we are forgetting to make them good citizens. You can’t teach happiness. You can’t will your kids to be smarter or better athletes. But, according to Weissbourd, you can teach your kids to be kinder by:
1. Making caring for others a priority.
2. Provide opportunities for children to practice caring and gratitude.
3. Expand your child’s circle of concern.
4. Be a strong role model and mentor.
5. Guide children in managing destructive feelings.
More than anything, the article is nice reminder to make kindness a priority in your home. After all, kindness can lead your kids to a happy, successful life. We are a generation of parents who feel, to a fault, our children are a reflection of us. So, let’s look at teaching kindness selfishly for a moment. I’ve never met a kid who does well on a field, or who is superficially happy because they are materialistically spoiled and thought, “Wow. That’s some good parenting right there.” However, when I meet kind, polite kids, I immediately give silent credit to their parents. People aren’t born with strong morals and values, they learn them. Guide your kids toward kindness, and the rest will fall into place.